I'm eating WHAT!?
The plastic bag is about the size of a bag of Doritos and is literally bulging with air. It reminds me of those generic bags of cereal at the grocery store, with clever names like Oat Rings and Chocolate Puffs. Through the small clear window at the bottom of the bag, I see pale yellow flakes that seem destined to float atop a five-gallon aquarium. Shaking the bag around reveals what looks like dried corn, some whole curry leaves, and a peanut or two. This is either meant to be eaten as a kind of bar food or to sustain five-cent goldfish.
I carefully open the bag and pour a handful of chivda into my hand. It feels gritty, earthy, and again reminds me of the dry texture of fish food. But it smells like a cardboard box coated with curry and coconut. I raise my now-shaking hand to my mouth and pour the mixture into my mouth. Dry, grainy flakes coat my tongue. A taste of coconut, cumin, and mustard washes down my throat.
The flakes have a more complex taste than I was expecting. The sweet coconut mixing with salty peanuts, mustard seeds, and curry provides everything a stoner could want in a snack. Add to that the strange texture and it's a wonder this stuff isn't more popular with the Phish set. As I pour out my second handful, I read the ingredients on the back of the package: "rice flakes, peanuts, roasted split gram, palm oil, mustard seeds, green chilly (sp), turmeric, curry leaves, dry coconut, cumin, poppy seeds, and salt." The 'chilly', curry, and coconut are the most prevalent flavors, but after reading the rest of the ingredients, the other tastes fell into place on my pallet.
Roasted Chivda should be available at your local Indian market for under $2. This bag was purchased at Indian Grocery and Spices, 3062 N Andrews Ave., 954-561-8606